DOJ backs antitrust bill targeting Apple, Google, Amazon

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The US Department of Justice has endorsed the proposed antitrust bill that is intended to curb anticompetitive Big Tech companies, but which Apple says will instead harm consumers.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is a legislative proposal that would make it illegal for large technology firms to promote their own services over those from rivals. While it remains a proposal, its chance of being passed into law has been increased by public support from the DOJ.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice's acting assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, Peter Hyun, has detailed the DOJ's position in a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"The Department views the rise of dominant platforms as presenting a threat to open markets and competition," says the letter, as seen by the Wall Street Journal, "with risks for consumers, businesses, innovation, resiliency, global competitiveness, and our democracy."

"Discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms can sap the rewards from other innovators and entrepreneurs, reducing the incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation," continues the letter. "Even more importantly, the legislation may support the growth of new tech businesses adjacent to the platforms, which may ultimately pose a critically needed competitive check to the covered platforms themselves."

The Act would be an addition or extension to current antitrust laws, and would clarify what Congress defines as anticompetitive and illegal. Hyun's letter says that this clarity would "enhance the ability of the DOJ... to challenge that conduct."

Apple has previously argued that this act, along with other antitrust proposals, would harm Americans' security and privacy.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act has had similar criticism from one group representing small business interests in the US. However, it has equally received support from another such interest group.

As yet, the Wall Street Journal notes, the legislation has not received a vote on the floor of either chamber. It has passed a January Senate Committee vote, but even some backers are asking for changes to the proposals.